By Emily Devereux
‘Rebellious: Alberta Women Artists in the 1980s’ is the newest exhibition open at the Art Gallery of Alberta. The exhibition’s title is a nice, simple overview of the show’s content, but the art within is more diverse than a single sentence can describe.
Inside “Rebellion”, you’ll find paintings, etchings, textiles, out of context advertising slogans lit up on the walls, an interactive kinetic metal sculpture—among other things—and a variety of conceptual topics to explore.
The exhibition and the women featured within take on rebellion from every angle. Some of the included artists are pushing forward into new artistic techniques. There are works inspired by the exploration of the sexualized nude male figure and from pornographic images. Others are using their art as a way of protest, a tool for activism.
One of the first things you see when entering the exhibition are photos from a 1981 installation called ‘Defunct’. A replicated neighbourhood inside a gallery was demolished over the course of the exhibition, house by house. Recordings of people talking about the upcoming developments were silenced as each house fell.
In reality, these developments never happened—affordable housing was demolished in the name of projects that ultimately fell through when the Alberta oil boom ended.
The 1980s were a tumultuous era for Alberta. Now in 2019, it seems that our future is once again hitting a point of uncertainty and social and political rebellion is alive and well. You don’t have to look far to find a protest or a collection of people trying to change the world. Some, like Extinction Rebellion, even have it right in the name.
Perhaps that is the reason behind the timing of this exhibition—right now, it’s easy to relate. The world feels like a precarious place, and many people are being inspired to take a stand and say something about it.
“Rebellious” is on display until Feb. 17, and you can flash your one AT NAIT card for free admission to the entire Art Gallery of Alberta.